Title: Of Guilt and Forgiveness
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 26 December 2010
Word Count: 7340
Summary: Ziva needs more than just a hug, and Jenny is up to the job.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW10
Author's Disclaimer: The characters and background stories of NCIS do not belong to me. I just borrowed
Author's Notes: This story contains the depiction of sexual situations between two consenting adult women with an element of light BDSM. Please, be warned.
Ziva David, Mossad liaison officer with the NCIS, the United States Navel Criminal Investigative Service, walked up the stairs to her apartment. Her legs felt like lead but more as a reflex of her mental weariness than a sign of physical exhaustion. The last few days had been hell. Ziva was still angry with herself for having acted too late with Hoffmann. It had been a beginner’s mistake, something that should not have happened, ever. She should have been able to take him out without killing him. It had been unprofessional and it still was nagging at her; almost as much as her subsequent dalliance with Michael Locke. Having sex with him had not helped her to sleep through the night and it had not been the distraction she had hoped for – and she had hurt a good man in the process.
Ziva unlocked her door and immediately reached for her weapon. There was a light on in her bedroom, but moments later her sensitive nose picked up the scent of a very familiar perfume.
“Jenny! What are you doing here? I thought you wanted to spend the rest of your time off on a beach somewhere.” Ziva said while she put the weapon back in its holster and stepped into her bedroom where NCIS Director Jenny Shepard was sitting in an old leather armchair.
“Nice to see you too, Ziva, but I have to tell you that you look like hell warmed over. Worse than I expected. Those dark circles under your eyes are extremely unbecoming.” Jenny answered without leaving her seat.
“I am sorry that my appearance does not meet with your approval, Director.” Ziva’s remark was meant to be sarcastic but Jenny could easily detect the pain in her inflection.
So, she rose from her seat and opened her arms, and Ziva flew into the embrace like a lost child. Jenny closed her arms around her and held her tight.
“It’s alright now, Zee, let it go. I’m here. I hold you.”
Ziva didn’t cry but she soaked up the contact like a dry sponge.
A couple of minutes later Jenny asked her if she felt a bit better now and Ziva nodded.
“Are you ready to tell me what happened, Zee?” Ziva nodded again but didn’t move. “Come on, Ziva. It will make you feel better.”
“Didn’t Gibbs fill you in when he called you?” Ziva asked defensively.
“It was Ducky who called, and no he didn’t go into any details. He just said that you might need a friendly shoulder.”
“Sounds like something Ducky would say.” Ziva answered and took a tiny step back, just enough to signal Jenny that she was ready to talk.
“He also said that those last days you did not wear your necklace.”
“I was undercover, passing as a bored NAVY wife. It only would have complicated things.” Ziva answered but didn’t look Jenny in the eyes.
“Then let me put it on you, now.”
Ziva shock her head, took another step back and stared at the floor.
“I see,” Jenny said and put the necklace with Ziva’s Star of David on the small table to the right of the armchair. She moved forward, invading Ziva’s personal space. She put a hand on Ziva’s chin and made her look into her eyes. “We’ll talk later then, Zee. If I insisted now you would only give me the edited version, but I want the whole story. So, for the moment I want you to relax.”
Jenny unhooked the Sig from Ziva’s belt and removed the knife from her back with practised ease. She then knelt down and also removed the ankle holster with Ziva’s backup .38 revolver and made her slip out of her shoes. Jenny rose again and unbuttoned Ziva’s shirt; she pulled the T-shirt over her head and removed her bra. Ziva let it happen as if she were a doll, but was accommodating enough to step out of her jeans and panties after Jenny had pulled them down.
Ziva’s eyes once again had found the floor and Jenny made her look up again with a gentle touch. They held eye contact while Jenny began to undress herself. She wore a white V-neck pullover made of silk and dark brown linen slacks and a pair of understatedly simple leather slippers. Even her casual clothes had class and the skin coloured Victoria’s Secrets ensemble she wore underneath let Ziva dry swallow. Jenny was so beautiful, so perfect; not like her.
When Jenny was as naked as Ziva she led her to the bed, but Ziva froze and refused to lie down with her. She looked into Ziva’s dark eyes and recognised the for once undisguised emotion in them.
“I know you don’t feel worthy of anything at the moment, Zee. I know you and you only refrain from wearing the necklace when you think that you don’t deserve it. Let me be the judge of that, later. For now, just trust me.”
“Please, punish me, Jenny. You haven’t done that in a long time.”
“Only if we later agree that you really need it, my Zee, and you didn’t need it lately.” Jenny answered and stretched out on the bed. “Come, let me hold you for a while. Let your body rest, Zee, allow your mind to calm down.”
Ziva slowly joined her on the bed and laid down on her side. Jenny pulled one of Ziva’s legs over her own and stroked the smooth skin of her thigh. Her other hand rested on the small of Ziva’s back and pressed her nether region against her own thigh and hip. Ziva’s body was extremely tense, poised to run or to attack at a moment’s notice. Jenny still rejoiced in the feeling of Ziva’s smooth skin touching her own.
They fit well together, personally and professionally, and initially that had been quite the surprise. The first time they had worked together on a joined project in Prague Jenny had been astonished by the self-confidence, obvious experience and wisdom far beyond her age Ziva had shown. She quickly had learned to depend on the younger agent and she had given her her trust, something she did not do easily, not after her first partner after Gibbs had double-crossed her.
It had not taken long for them to become lovers, and it had been then that she had seen the other side of Ziva David, the poster child for Mossad effectiveness. She had seen the romantic Ziva and she had gotten to know the tender heart hidden behind her self-confident mask and her sometimes cocky behaviour.
She also had found her to possess an exaggerated sense of guilt and responsibility. Even if an operation had gone well Ziva sometimes had found reasons to find fault in her actions, to feel guilty.
About two months after they had become intimate they had been lying in a hotel room in Cairo. Only a couple of hours earlier Ziva had saved Jenny’s life by pushing her to cover and shooting her attacker. Jenny had been more than ready to thank Ziva in her own way but the tension running through Ziva’s body had precluded that.
It hadn’t been the silent brooding she sometimes did when things hadn’t gone according to plan, a brooding she could easily be coaxed out of with the right incentive.
It had taken Jenny a while to recognise the tension as anger, and since they both were not prone to beat around the bush, she simply had asked.
Ziva had looked at her and for the first time ever Jenny had seen fear in the formidable young woman’s eyes, but she had not answered. Jenny impulsively had pulled Ziva in an embrace until they had been in the same position they held now.
“Please, tell me, Zee.”
“You almost died today,” Ziva’s voice had been soft, barely above a whisper.
“Yes, I did, and you saved my life.”
“You only were in danger because I didn’t do my job. I didn’t keep you safe. I wasn’t vigilant enough. I put you life in danger. You would be better off without me.”
That had made her sit up in alarm and look at Ziva, “Never say something like that again, my Zee. Without you I would be dead. I was too focused on setting the charges, and no one else could have eliminated the sentries in record time and be there to save my life. You did what you were supposed to do and more. Stop blaming yourself, please.”
Ziva’s eyes had widened but her posture made it abundantly clear that she could not accept Jenny’s words at face value, that she could not believe in them.
“Let me hold you, Zee.”
After a moment’s hesitation Ziva had willingly returned her head to Jenny’s shoulder and the silence of the night had settled around them.
About an hour later Ziva had said, “I should have been faster. I should have gotten to him before he even had the chance to aim his weapon at you.”
“Ziva, you did everything the mission demanded. You brought us onto the compound, set you part of the explosives and assured our escape – and then you topped it by saving my life. You have no reason to be angry with yourself or disappointed in your work. You did nothing wrong. I, on the other hand, was taken by surprise. You should be angry at me for not paying attention. It was me who put my life in danger and perhaps it’s you who would be better off without me.”
Ziva had held on tighter, “You couldn’t have seen or heard him, Jen. The generator was too loud. You did nothing wrong and I’ll never be better off without you.”
Then she had said something in Hebrew. It had taken Jenny almost a year to get to translate it for her, after Ziva had once again risked her own life to save hers. She had said, “You are my heart and my soul.”
Jenny caressed Ziva’s smooth skin and wished that Ziva could simply kill the enemy she was fighting now, but not even Ziva’s super ninja powers, as Abby called Ziva’s abilities, could protect her against her own body.
Ziva’s body was still as tense as a drawn bow string, but over the years Jenny had learned to give her the time she needed to get ready to talk. So, she allowed her mind to wander back to the journey of discovery her relationship with Ziva had turned into after that night in Cairo. Jenny had learned to read Ziva’s eyes, and what to others seemed cold and detached, even heartless, to her became an open book that clearly revealed Ziva’s emotions.
One day the only way to stop a suicide bombing had been to kill the one wearing the bomb. Ziva had shot him right between the eyes, killing him instantly before he had reached his target area, a tourist heavy market place. He had been only a boy, twelve years old, thirteen at the most. Ziva had looked down on him while another Mossad officer had worked on removing the bomb.
The CIA agent who had been with them had pulled her aside and said, “Mossad, they’re nothing but cold hearted killers.”
Jenny, however, had seen anger in Ziva’s eyes and remorse.
Later in their shared hotel room she had peeled Ziva out of her clothing, stripped herself and had pulled her into a tight embrace. Only after most of the tension had left Ziva’s body, Jenny had requested, “Please, tell me, my Zee.”
“I killed a child today, Jen, a child.”
“And if you hadn’t he would have killed dozens on innocents. It was necessary. I know but that doesn’t make it right. My sister was his age when she was killed by a bomb. She still had a whole life to live, and so did he.”
“You’re wrong, Ziva. You sister was an innocent victim, but he decided to throw his whole future away to kill innocent people. It was his decision, Zee; you did nothing wrong,” Jenny had said.
“Did he? Was it really his decision or did he just not know any better? To end another person’s life is always wrong.”
“But sometimes we don’t have a choice, or at least not much of a choice. Today you decided that the lives of those people in the market were worth more than the life of one probably misguided boy. Tomorrow I might have to decide that your life is worth more than the life of the man aiming a gun at you. You did what you had to do, my Zee, and we both know that you’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
“That does not make it hurt any less, Jen.”
“Is there anything I can do to make the pain go away?” Ziva had wordlessly snuggled closer in Jenny’s embrace, and the next day she had taken her to wisit her mother.
Lena David was in her early fifties and still a very beautiful woman. Her eyes were warm and kind; and she too was able to read Ziva’s feeling from her eyes. Before they had even exchanged one word of greeting, she had opened her arms and Ziva had stepped in her embrace. Ziva almost instantly had visibly relaxed in her mother’s arms.
“What had he do you this time?”
“It was necessary, mother.”
“It always is, but now you’re here and we can forget about the world and its hatred. Now, introduce me to your friend.”
They had spent the night, had eaten, laughed and talked about everything but work and politics, and when they had left the next day Lena had taken Jenny asides and told her that she was glad that her daughter had found someone she trusted with her heart.
Jenny had learned a lot in those two days with Lena. While Eli David was more a commanding officer than a father, his wife had warmth and love for both of them. They also lived their lives by very different moral standards. One believed that no matter what, the end always justifies the means, even killing and exploiting his own children in his schemes. Lena believed that all life is sacred and that violence is never a good choice, though she was honest enough that in our world it sometimes was the only choice.
And Lena David’s teachings had sunk in, despite the efforts of her trainers to break her off them during her Mossad and later during Metseda training. So, sometimes Ziva’s moral compass pointed in one direction while her sense of duty pulled her in the other. She paid the price with a guilty conscience she had had no way to assuage, except in the understanding arms of her mother, and after her mother’s death five years ago with Jenny.
Most of the time talking helped, but sometimes Ziva’s feeling of guilt was too strong to answer to reason and logic. Sometimes she needed more, and it had taken Jenny months to first figure it out and then come to terms with it.
One day, exasperated by Ziva’s irrational stubbornness, Jenny had asked her what the hell she wanted her to do, if she wanted her to put her over her knees and spank her. Ziva’s eyes had widened and she had quietly admitted that that was what her father had done when she had been a child, make her lie on his lap and take his belt to her behind.
Jenny’s own father had never so much as raised his voice against his daughter and her face must have shown her revulsion at that form of parenting. She had said, “It helped, Jenny, it made me feel better.”
Ziva had then given her an example to explain how it had worked. She had told her about a fight she had had at school with a boy two years her senior. She had won but not without ending up with a black eye. Her mother had simply put a raw steak on her injury and told her that she was disappointed that Ziva had not found another way to solve her conflict with the boy. Her father had called her in his home office and had also told her that she had disappointed him. He had lectured her on not having lived up to her potential and how she should have used her fighting skills more effectively. He had pulled her over his lap and driven the point home that he expected her not only to win but also to get out of her fights without getting hurt herself the next time.
Jenny would never forget what Ziva had told her then, “I felt better afterwards, but not because of what he had said but because the pain made it easier for me to forgive myself for having disappointed my mother.”
Jenny had been astounded by the insight Ziva had into her own reactions and feelings, but it had also taken her some time to reconcile it with the beliefs with which she had been raised. Nonetheless, the next time Ziva had refused to accept that she had not been at fault in any way, the next time she had seen the deep seated pain in her young lover’s eyes, Jenny had pulled her over her knees and spanked her with the back of her wooden hairbrush.
Ziva could have gotten away easily. She had the strength and the speed and the training to do so, but she had not moved. She had allowed Jenny to beat her until her nether globes had been bruised all over, and then she had looked up at Jenny with an expression of wonder on her face and had thanked her for doing it.
It had been a revelation to both of them. Jenny had never thought herself capable of doing something like that, not even in jest; and Ziva had learned that the pain, though in her mind it had had nothing on her childhood memories, had helped her to forgive herself.
They had stayed in contact, long after they no longer had worked together and Jenny had started to climb through the ranks at an astonishing speed. Ziva had found her when she could no longer stand the guilt of having to do her father’s dirty work. She had sought her out to talk, to be held and loved, to be punished. And Ziva had always been there when Jenny had needed unofficial information or someone to guard her back or just a reprieve from the testosterone poisoning one could get navigating the upper echelons of NCIS and the Pentagon.
While her mind had wandered along memory lane, Jenny had continued her gentle ministrations and Ziva’s body had considerably relaxed. Her eyes were closed and her breathing deep and regular. To the uninformed observer it looked as if she were sleeping. Jenny knew better.
Jenny knew that Ziva’s mind was running a mile a minute, going over whatever it was that had made her too ashamed to wear her necklace.
The original Star of David had been a gift from Ziva’s mother, the day Ziva had officially entered Mossad training at age sixteen though Eli had started her training much earlier. That pendant had been destroyed in a shoot-out in Bosnia. Ziva had stepped in front of a sniper bullet meant for Jenny. The aim of the shooter had been true, but by a shere stroke of luck or fate it had ricocheted off Ziva’s pendant and hit only her upper left arm instead of piercing her heart.
When Ziva had been released from the hospital Jenny had presented her with a new one Ziva has been wearing ever since. She also knew that Ziva kept the remnants of her mother’s Star of David in a safe embedded in the floor of her living room, together with a few other mementos.
Jenny remembered the day after Ari Haswari’s death. She had found the necklace and the pendant in a sealed envelope on her desk at the NCIS headquarters, together with an eyes-only report on what really had happened in Gibbs’ basement. Officially Gibbs had shot Ari in self-defence; officially Ari had been an Hamas agent. Unofficially Ziva had killed her half-brother to keep him from gunning down an unarmed Gibbs; unofficially Ari had been a Mossad mole infiltrating Hamas who had turned traitor out of hate for his father, Mossad Director Eli David.
When Jenny had fished the necklace out of the envelope she had had a really bad feeling, but after she had read the real report and held the pendant in her hand she knew that she would have to do everything in her power to remove Ziva from her father’s influence. With the necklace Ziva had symbolically given up her last line of protection, her last defence. Jenny knew that she would let go of her mother’s teachings and glide over into the world of her father, and she knew that she couldn’t let that happen, not without a fight – and luckily as the newly minted director of NCIS she had the means to do just that, fight.
It had been a hard sell to get Director David to assign Ziva for the as of then unheard of job as Mossad liaison officer to NCIS, but even the chance to get her lover away from a life that sooner or later would cost her soul had been worth every aggravating minute of it. David, of course, had been all in favour of having a foothold in NCIS, though he never would have admitted to that. He just had wanted to send one of his other officers; and only Jenny’s insistence that no other officer than Ziva would eventually be accepted by Gibbs and his team had let him change his mind.
At her return Jenny had met Ziva at the airport. The first look in her eyes had told Jenny that Ziva was only holding it together by a hair’s breadth and shere, stubborn willpower. She had brought her home, to the house she had grown up in, instead of the hotel room Mossad had rented for her. As soon as the front door had closed behind them Jenny had pulled Ziva in her arms, and the younger woman had burst into tears.
It had been the first and only time Jenny had every seen Ziva cry.
Jenny had held her and finally managed to walk them both over to sit on the couch in the den. For the next two days they had made love and talked and held each other and talked. Ziva had mourned the hardened souls and hearts of her father and half-brother. She had mourned for herself, for her lost innocence. She had mourned for having had to kill her own blood and for not having done it soon enough to save Kate’s life.
And thus it had been with them ever since Ziva had joined Gibbs’ team almost three years ago. Whenever Ziva felt troubled by something she had had to do, she sought clarity in Jenny’s arms and forgiveness over her lap or the back of her couch. – Not that there had not been many occasions when they had met just to have fun and to be together without anyone at NCIS being the wiser – except maybe for Ducky who was just too perceptive for his own good.
It was strange where her mind wandered that night.
Ziva shifted in her arms, the first sign that she was getting ready to talk. Soft lips pressed against her breast. Ziva’s breath tickled while she spoke, “You are my light, Jenny Shepard.”
Jenny bent down and kissed the top of Ziva’s head but didn’t say anything in return.
“Let me sit at your feet when I tell you, please.”
Jenny nodded and they both walked back to the armchair where Jenny sat down while Ziva settled at her feet. She pressed her upper body against Jenny’s lower legs and looked up to her.
She told her all about the undercover operation to find the serial killer and how she had picked up Hoffmann at his house where he had just killed his fourth victim.
“The cell rang and McGee gave me the code word to get out of the car so they could arrest Hoffman. Hoffman was suspicious and checked the caller ID and found Gibbs’ name as the number two of my speed dial, and I had stupidly told him that someone had dialled a wrong number. He pulled a gun on me. It was a stupid mistake. I should never have used my own phone during an undercover operation. It was a probie mistake, not that Tim would ever have done something that stupid. One does not go undercover and leave mile high clues to one’s real identity. I have done that often enough to know better.”
“Hindsight is always 20:20, my Zee, but I admit that it should not have happened. However, there is no guarantee that whatever happened later would not have happened the same way even without the mishap with the phone. I saw in the news that you shot him. How did that come to pass?”
Ziva told Jenny how Hoffmann had forced her at gunpoint to drive to an industrial area, that he made her get out of the car and forced her to walk through an abandoned warehouse he seemed to know rather well.
“I should have taken him on before we reached the other side of the room and I had nowhere left to go. When I finally took the chance I was too hesitant in my attack. I disarmed him and the gun skipped over the floor to the middle of the room. I gave him an opening and he fought back. I managed to push him away but instead of using the distance to take him out with a kick I scrambled after the gun to hold him in check until Gibbs arrived. My fingers had already closed around the hilt of the revolver when he reached me and attacked me with the murder weapon. I shot him three times and he dropped dead, right on top of me. For a moment I was paralysed, but I managed to roll his corpse off of me just before Gibbs and McGee stormed in.
“I was still lying on the floor and must have been a bit pale. McGee thinks that I was shell shocked because I had to kill someone, or more specifically that I had to kill someone at close range. Little does he know.
“You know that I hate having to end another person’s life, even if that person is a serial killer, but I was well trained to do it and I learned to live with it. Tim would never understand that I was shocked about my own unprofessional behaviour. I failed in my duty as NCIS agent and as a Mossad officer because I didn’t react in time. I failed in my duty when I killed instead of subduing him and taking him into custody. I failed when for a moment I felt regret at having killed that monster, instead of rejoicing that now there’s one predator less in the world. I failed…”
Jenny put a finger on Ziva’s lips, “Ziva, stop beating yourself up. Tell me, had it been anyone else in that situation, had it been Tony or McGee or Abby, how would you have rated their performance?”
“I would never have allowed Abby to put herself in so much danger. It’s not what she has been trained for. I would not have allowed it.”
Ziva’s dark eyes still looked up to her, so Jenny had to fight down the broad smile that threatened to erupt on her face at the fierce protectiveness Ziva showed for the forensic anthropologist.
“That wasn’t an answer to my question, was it?”
“No, it was not,” Ziva answered reluctantly. Jenny’s eyes steadily held her own and so she continued, “If it had been McGee or DiNozzo I would have rated their performance as adequate. It kept them alive and stopped a killer.”
“And why do you measure your own actions with a so much bigger stick, my Zee?” Jenny asked gently, though she already knew the answer, but they had to get through that part to reach the main reason why Ziva felt guilty.
“I know it’s a double standard, Jenny, but I can’t help it. I am who I am, even if I sometimes don’t like it, and because I am who I am I have to be better than others.”
Jenny didn’t answer to that. She couldn’t deny it. If Ziva had not been better than others they both would be dead by now, many times over. She latched onto something else Ziva had said; that would bring them a step further in the right direction.
“And at the moment you don’t like who you are very much, don’t you? What else happened that makes you judge yourself so harshly? And don’t tell me that it was your perceived sub-standard performance, that only would have made you run to the gym to train more and would not have cost you any sleep.”
Ziva took a deep breath and told her about Michael Locke and how she had used him as a diversion and how that had made him Tony’s prime suspect as Hoffmann’s supposed accomplice. She told her that they had slept together and how hurt Michael had been when he found out that she had had his fingerprints tested.
“What do you regret most, Zee, that you slept with a stranger or that you knew it was a mistake before it happened?” Jenny asked bluntly.
“Both, I guess,” Ziva didn’t miss a beat with her answer. She was used to Jenny’s blunt questioning style. “Mostly because I knew it was a mistake. I knew simple physical release was not enough, even then. He had made it clear that he wanted to get to know me better, and I knew that I never would let him have more than sex.
“I really wish that I would have followed Gibbs’ orders and stayed out to the office and had let them find the other murderer on their own, not that I was much help with that either way. I wish I would have found you, would have come to you before my bed aerobics with Michael. But that’s neither here nor there and someone very wise once told me that what-ifs are worse than hindsight because they can let you doubt yourself.”
Jenny smiled at the ‘bed aerobics’ but didn’t correct her and her smile widened when Ziva used one of her own sayings.
“You’re right, Zee, but I didn’t want to talk about what-ifs but about the why.”
“I know, I just…” Ziva fell silent but the comforting feeling of Jenny’s legs against her side and her inquisitive eyes let her continue. “I know it should not have happened. In a way it felt like an extension of the undercover work. A couple of times my undercover jobs involved having sex with a suspect and what I did with Michael felt similar. I learned to achieve physical release, but it had nothing to do with me. I was trained to separate my body from the rest, but Michael deserved better. He’s a good man and I wish I could make it up to him.”
“Then find his missing girlfriend and give them both a chance at some closure. That’s the best you can do, Zee.”
“I’m already working on it, Jenny, but that will not make my other mistakes and failures go away.” Ziva answered.
“Then let’s go over it again, Zee.”
Ziva tore her eyes from Jenny’s and looked down to the floor.
“No, ma guerričre, don’t run from the truth.”
Ziva’s head snapped up. It had been a long time since Jenny had called her ‘her warrior’, a very long time, “I have not acted like anyone’s warrior lately.”
“I hate it when you’re so hard to yourself, my Zee. Except for the minor mistake with the phone you did everything right. You tried to stall Hoffman until the others arrived and when it didn’t work out you eliminated the threat; that’s what warriors do. And as for Michael; sometimes pure physical release can be the answer, be it in a gym or the bed of a near stranger. That’s true for every human being, even a Mossad officer come NCIS agent. You were just unlucky enough that it didn’t work, and your undercover training might have something to do with that. Please, stop beating yourself up.”
Jenny bent down to kiss Ziva but the younger woman turned her head and once again looked down.
“Please, let it go, Zee.”
Ziva raised her head and found Jenny’s by now concerned eyes. “I can’t, Jenny. Every time I close my eyes I see Hoffman in the car when I blew my cover. I see the split second after I had disarmed him and could have taken him down, a simple elbow jab to his throat and it would have been done. I see things that never happened; I see McGee and Gibbs being killed because I didn’t take Hoffman out in time. I see him escape and appear in the middle of NCIS and shoot you and Abby and Ducky, and I just stand there and do nothing.
“I went to work to get those images out of my head. I went to the bar to drown them. I took a man to bed and had sex to make them go away but they’re still here. I even went down to the morgue to look at his dead body, to make sure that the images will never come true. Please, Jenny, help me to get rid of them.”
Jenny knew exactly what Ziva wanted her to do and now that she had finally told her what really plagued her she also knew that it was what Ziva needed. Her guilt over the fight with Hoffman or over sleeping with Locke had been nothing more than self-serving declarations.
Ziva never had been the Mossad assassin her father had raised her to be. She had the skills and didn’t shy from using them if she had to, but working with NCIS had enforced her sense of right and wrong. Gibbs with his gruff exterior and rough affection had shown her more warmth than her own father ever had and Tony and Timothy were brothers that would never double-cross her, and then there was her volatile friendship with Abby…
The fears she just had told her about in Jenny’s eyes were ample proof that she began to accept them as much more than colleagues. Ziva had a family now, a strange family, admittedly, but a family for which she cared and feared. They might not yet understand her as well as she did but…
“Please, Jenny, please.”
Jenny studied Ziva’s face, the pleading in her eyes. She gave her a slight nod and a soft kiss on the forehead.
“Go to the living room and prepare everything. I’ll join you in five minutes.”
Jenny was barefoot but had put her slacks and pullover back on when she left the bedroom exactly five minutes later.
Ziva had pushed the couch table to the side to make place for one of the wooden chairs from her dining table set. She stood behind the chair and looked straight ahead.
Jenny inspected the things Ziva had put on the couch table: a foot and a half long wooden ruler with European and American measurements etched on one side, a big wooden spoon from the kitchen, a sturdy, slightly worn belt made of brown leather, four feet long and two inches broad.
“Close your eyes, Ziva. I want you to be surprised.”
Jenny took the spoon back to the kitchen. She had been a bit surprised not to find the hair brush she first had used on Ziva among the selection, but decided that the ruler and belt would be more than enough to make Ziva forget her guilt. She put the belt on the floor to the right of the chair and weighted the ruler in her hand. Jenny had already used both implements on Ziva in the past though they usually had that kind of therapeutic meeting at her own house.
The ruler was relatively light and flexible enough to easily bounce off Ziva’s firm behind. It was the perfect tool to warm her up for the real punishment with the belt.
She directed Ziva to stretch out over her lap and ran her fingers over the smooth plane of Ziva’s back, buttocks and upper thighs, indicating that all those areas would be susceptible to being hit, but when she finally started her blows fell only on Ziva’s firm globes. She made every single blow count. Ziva first tensed up even more but slowly began to relax into the strokes. Her breathing was regular and slow and Jenny knew that she kept the tally in her head. And for the moment she let her.
The ruler left two thin marks with every stroke, but only when both butt cheeks had turned into a bright red Jenny stopped and exchanged the ruler for the doubled over belt. She let it rest on Ziva’s heated buttocks and told her to stop counting.
“Let it go, my Zee. Don’t let your guilt win. Don’t hold back. Let the pain cleanse what hurts your soul, ma guerričre.”
Ziva’s body stayed relaxed, but the slight touch at her leg told Jenny that she had understood the request. So, she put one hand on the small of Ziva’s back and swung the belt with the other. Ziva exhaled with the impact and the next about half a dozen strokes fell in rhythm with her breathing.
“Focus on the pain, Zee, on nothing else.”
Another slight touch acknowledged her words, but it took over six more strokes before Jenny felt the change in Ziva’s breathing and she began to react to the pain by kicking her legs a bit, not as much as she could have or as someone else probably would have. It were more involuntary jerks than real kicks, but Jenny had learned from experience that it was the first sign that the pain was starting to do its job.
“That’s it, Zee. Let it all go.” Jenny said and stroked the small of Ziva’s back while her other hand was still wielding the belt.
All of Jenny’s senses were focused on picking up the slightest further change in Ziva’s body, focused on every sound she made, every muscle that flexed, the rhythm of her breathing, of her heartbeat.
Almost everyone else by now would have cried out or started to beg to make it stop. Ziva, or anyone else with her training, could not only have stopped it but turned the table on her – but the younger woman didn’t make it stop, she didn’t beg, she didn’t cry. So, Jenny had to use other indicators to find out when to stop, and she had become very adept at reading Ziva’s body language in those situations.
The belt was leaving welts on Ziva’s firm buttocks. They had started to swell, and Jenny knew that by tomorrow there would be considerable bruising and that it would be extremely hard for Ziva to sit for any length of time. Still, she kept up the steady rhythm of her strokes – ‘til she registered a minute change in Ziva’s heartbeat. She paused and waited.
“Please, Jenny, just a few more. Please!”
Jenny was relieved at the request. It meant that Ziva wanted the beating to end soon but would leave it up to Jenny to decide how soon.
“Count them, Zee, from six backwards; so, you’ll know when it’s over.”
There had been times when Ziva had not said anything, and other times when she had begged her to continue, when she had begged for more and more.
So, that night Jenny made sure that the last six strokes would leave the most prominent marks; marks that still would be visible and keenly felt the next couple of days.
Finally Jenny let the belt drop to the floor and helped Ziva to get back on her feet while standing up herself. Ziva’s face was dry and her eyes shone brightly.
“Thank you, Jenny.”
She had not shed a single tear. Ziva was not one to cry easily – in fact Jenny had only seen her cry once, when she had held her in her arms in her house before she had started to work with Gibbs, after the whole ordeal with Kaitlin being killed by Ari and Ziva having to bring her half-brother back to Israel after his death. Ziva’s mother’s death, Jenny later had learned, had been the first time the young woman had allowed herself to cry, and her father had not been tolerant of that in his eyes unseemly display of affection.
Ziva was trembling slightly. Jenny pulled the necklace with the Star of David out of the pocket of her slacks, opened the clasp and offered it to Ziva. There was a slight moment of insecurity flickering through her eyes but then she pulled her hair up and bent her head.
Jenny fastened the necklace around her and guided her back to the bedroom. She made her lie on the bed, stripped her own clothes off and slid in next to her. Ziva sighed when she felt Jenny’s arms close around her and snuggled deeper into her embrace.
“Close your eyes, my Zee. I’ll guard your sleep.”
Ziva obediently lowered her lashes and allowed sleep to claim her – and for the first time in days she no longer was afraid to face her dreams.
As soon as she was sure that Ziva was really asleep, Jenny reached for a jar she had put on the nightstand earlier. It contained a healing salve that would help to keep the swelling under control. She applied it generously and meticulously.
It had been a long time since the young Israeli had felt the need to be punished this hard, but the calm gratitude in Ziva’s eyes and the fact that she had fallen asleep within moments of being settled in her arms told volumes. It told Jenny that punishing her had really been the right decision, despite her initial misgivings and despite the fact that no one else would be likely to understand them.
Ziva only slept for about three hours but when she opened her eyes they were clear and bright and her sleep had not been disturbed by a nightmare or other dark visions.
They made love ‘til the early morning hours, and when Ziva wanted to get up for her morning run, Jenny convinced her otherwise. She even got her to call Gibbs and ask if she could get the day off. So, they napped and snuggled and made love way until after midday. Ziva went on her run while Jenny picked up the apartment and called for lunch take-out.
They spent the day together, sitting, well Ziva was mostly lying on her stomach, talking, making love, talking, eating, making love. Jenny let Ziva be on top most of the time to take it easy on her bruised behind, but as usual Ziva had come harder when they had rolled over or Jenny had squeezed her buttocks in the throes of passion.
The next morning they parted with a kiss. Ziva returned to the NCIS headquarters while Jenny went off to enjoy the last week of her leave.
That was the last time they spent such quality time together. Three weeks later Jenny was killed in Los Angeles.